We need balance to avoid the 'fiscal cliff'

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Many top-ranking Democrats say that these programs don’t add to our deficit. Really? Social Security has added approximately $165 billion to the deficit, and that number is almost certain to grow, with an estimated 3.5 million baby boomers retiring each year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for Democrats to be open to a bipartisan compromise that calls for higher Medicare premiums for the wealthy, an increase in the Medicare eligibility age and slowing cost-of-living increases for Social Security. In return, McConnell said, Republicans would agree to include more tax revenue in a budget deal, though not from higher rates.

At the same time, I urge Republicans to realize that in order to make a deal, save the country from a possible recession and save the middle class from exuberant tax hikes, tax rates for the wealthy must be increased.

Several Congressional Republicans have been catching flak for seeking such a compromise, mainly because of a pledge they may have signed with Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, that they would never vote to increase taxes.

I’ll be the first to admit it: Desperate times call for desperate measures, and right now our circumstances are, unfortunately, desperate. We need more revenue, and it’s time for the wealthiest Americans to pay more taxes.

Long Island Congressman Peter King admitted that times have changed. He signed such a pledge in 1995 and 1996, when President Clinton sought to raise taxes. “A pledge you signed 20 years ago, 18 years ago is for that Congress,” King said. “The world has changed. And the economic situation has changed.”

Republicans must be open to discussing tax hikes on the wealthy, and Democrats must be open to entitlement spending reform. I support increasing taxes among millionaires and billionaires, but not Long Island families making $250,000 per year.

I applaud the Republicans who are open to compromise and willing to cross party lines to discuss proposals that will boost our economy.
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